R.E.M. – Murmur
Acquired: Half Price Books, Used, 2012
The biggest “living the dream” moment I had while working at KJHK wasn’t the sense of unity I felt, the sense of responsibility I gained, or the fact that I finally found something that I truly loved to do. It was getting to takeover hosting duties of my favorite radio show. After a year and a half in my self-imposed indie-pop ghetto, I got Alternative Flashback. It was an important moment for me. A little triumph. It was important because Alternative Flashback is the show that made me start to dig deeper. To take the modern music I loved and trace it back to the 80s and 90s. It was effectively a time machine that sent the listener back to the golden age of college radio for two hours every week. And somehow I hosted the show without ever listening to R.E.M. It seems really bizarre now. I knew a bit about college rock, etc (not nearly as much as Justin or Gabe, mind you) going into it but I was thrilled to learn on the job, and yet somehow R.E.M. eluded me due to the simple fact that I thought they were boring. And still to this day I can’t think of a single R.E.M. track that I’ve heard that I remember thinking “goddamn that’s an amazing song!” Maybe that’s not true. I picked up a scratched up copy of New Adventures in Hi-Fi for a buck at work and enjoyed it, but then again, I can only remember that high note Michael Stipe hits in the first song. Anyway, I don’t know how someone who hosted a college rock radio show did it without knowing one of the (if not THE) most important college rock band there is. It just feels like I missed the boat and where people five or so years my senior are safe asail the good ship R.E.M., I stand like a cartoon character with three question marks drawn over my head. BUT, I’ve been listening to Murmur a lot lately, making a real go of it. An honest effort. And the more I listen, the more I peg references used by other bands (read: every other jangly pop band that came after) past and present. “Shaking Through,” "Catapult" and (natch) “Radio Free Europe” are the two jams I can easily remember upon relistening with an “Oh yeah I like this one” sorta fondness. It’ll be interesting to see what a little immersion does.